1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
The Golden Shrine of the Dome of the Rock mosque in the al-Aqsa compound, Jerusalem
There is still a long way to go towards peace in the Middle EastImage: AP

Middle East conflict

June 15, 2009

European foreign ministers have responded with cautious optimism to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in which he endorsed a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.


The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kohout, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, described Netanyahu's professed willingness to start negotiations on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a "step in the right direction."

Kohout, who was in Luxembourg for a meeting with his European counterparts, said there were "a number of other elements which need to be analyzed but the acceptance of the Palestinian state is there."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says there can be no conditionsImage: AP

Speaking to reporters in Luxembourg, Foreign Minister to Sweden, Carl Bildt, echoed his Czech colleague's view. "The fact that he uttered the word 'state' is a small step forward," he said. "Whether what he mentioned can be defined as a (Palestinian) state is a subject of some debate."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said there was still a long way to go. "To secure peace means going well beyond that, without laying down any preconditions to negotiations," he said.

Restrictions and conditions

In his televised announcement on Sunday evening, the Israeli Prime Minister said he was prepared to begin talks on several conditions including the demilitarization of any future Palestinian state and Israeli sovereignty over a united Jerusalem.

The provisions have angered Palestinians, and Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said they were "not what the EU expects."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants closer ties with the EUImage: AP

EU foreign ministers say that although Netanyahu's announcement is a step in the right direction, it is too soon to talk about an upgrade - a strengthening of ties - in EU-Israeli relations.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said: "We shouldn't talk about an upgrade with Israel if we don't manage to unblock the (peace talks) process in a very positive way."

The ministers agreed to the upgrade in principle last year, but the issue was sidelined in December following Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip. Since then, the EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner has said there will be no strengthening of ties until such time as the Israeli government commits to peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was due to join his EU counterparts in Luxembourg on Monday evening.


Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Launchers carrying Tochka tactical missiles

Ukraine updates: Kyiv slams Russia's Belarus nuclear plan

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage